Optional Courses

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Optional Courses

 The course covers how cognition and the brain change from gestation up to the age of around 2 years. It focuses on the reciprocal relationship between cognitive and brain development, and how these developmental pathways are affected by the infant's physical and social environment.

The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest in Psychology. This course introduces the research methods (primarily twin designs) used to estimate genetic and environmental influences on behaviour. In doing so the basic principles of genetic transmission and multifactorial inheritance are outlined. An overview of genetic and environmental findings in the areas of personality, cognitive abilities and mental illness will be presented. The implications of these findings for psychologists will be discussed, and the exciting directions (molecular, epigenetic, gene by environment interaction) that the rapidly advancing field of genetics is moving in will be highlighted.

The course will provide an introduction to the multifarious roles of causal models in cognition, from predictive and diagnostic reasoning, and responsibility attribution, to problem solving, active learning, mental simulation and control.

In this course we will explore the functional organisation of visual cortex. The course will cover animal and human studies that have revealed, through multiple neuroscience techniques, fundamental facts about visual cortex organisation. 
The course will review early invasive studies in humans and non-human primates before providing a more contemporary account of visual cortex that draws upon recent advances in cognitive neuroscience (e.g. fMRI, MEG, ECoG) and computational modelling. 
Students will be encouraged to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different neuroscience techniques in answering questions regarding brain function and the importance of convergent evidence. 

The course covers key topics in personality science including (but not limited to) its overarching goals and mission within psychology, measurement, development and prediction of real-world outcomes.

Drawing from the social identity approach, this course will focus on how theories of intra- and inter-group dynamics help us to understand collective behaviour. Specifically, this course will explore the cognitive, relational, emotional, and behavioural effects shared social identities can have, and how social identities emerge and develop. A fundamental question is what makes collective behavior possible in a variety of situations, and how examples from recent empirical research on collective behavior can enhance our knowledge of existing identity theories. This course will critically review the scope and limitations of identity theories through different crowd contexts: mass gatherings, collective action, and responses to mass disasters. It will provide students with a strong understanding of key theories in identity research, and the ability to critically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses through recent high-impact empirical research drawing on a range of methodologies.

This course aims to promote an appreciation of methodological issues in psychological research via case studies in parapsychology (the scientific study of paranormal beliefs and experiences). Surveys show that approximately 50% of the public report belief in the paranormal, and about half of these people say they have had a paranormal experience. What lies behind these beliefs and experiences? This course provides an introduction to the study of claimed anomalous experiences and paranormal beliefs through case studies of controversies in the field, and a consideration of the wider scientific and methodological relevance of this work.

This course examines our perception of the external world in relation to our body, how this information is used to control purposeful action, where in the brain these processes take place, and how we subjectively experience them. We will cover theoretical approaches to perception and action, the use of vision and body senses to guide actions, basic concepts in action control, body representation as a feat of multisensory integration, the dynamic flexibility of body representation, and the experience of body ownership and agency. The evidence will be drawn from diverse techniques in cognitive neuroscience, including the neuropsychological study of brain-damaged people, experimental studies of healthy people, functional brain imaging and neuro-disruption, and single-cell neurophysiology in animals. The core course content is presented in lectures, with additional in-class discussions, and independent further study.

Clinical Psychologists adhere to a Scientist-Practitioner model, using the empirical evidence base of outcome research in the application of treatments for people in distress. This course examines current practice in psychological therapies and the psychological research which informs this. Attention will be paid to claims about evidence and its application in diverse clinical settings and across specific populations.

This course covers the main current research areas in the psychology of language comprehension. The course covers the neural foundations of language, and gives an overview of current research in all levels of language comprehension, from the comprehension of single words to multi-sentence text. The course also covers language and social cognition, and considers some of the applications of language comprehension research.

This course provides an overview of theory and research on close relationships. With an emphasis on empirical evidence, we will focus on how relationship dynamics meaningfully influence human psychology, and vice versa. We will examine how relationship processes relate to multiple areas of psychology (e.g., biological, cognitive, developmental, social), with particular attention to the social level. This course will likely challenge some of your (and society's) preconceptions about relationships.

This course aims to cover current theories, debates, and clinical topics in Mental Health by covering different clinical groups.